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Not to miss….Matterhorn?

Thankful for opinions.

After much mulling regarding our 10 day trip to Switzerland we have decided to keep our area of visit limited to the Berner Oberland area as we are outdoors/scenery/hiking driven and realize 10 days is not enough to see all of Switzerland to our liking.

That being said what are opinions on the following:
We arrive in Geneva at 9:15 am on a Saturday. We will be renting a car for travel to Lauterbrunnen.

Since we likely will not be back to Switzerland any time soon we are thinking of taking a detour drive to the Zermatt area for a quick glimpse of the Matterhorn before heading to Lauterbrunnen.

Will it be too late in the day if we get there after noon?
Will we be able to park our car nearby?
What is the best way to see a glimpse of Matterhorn? I have heard there is a gondola ride with a quick hike to be able to view it assuming the weather cooperates. What is the name of that route?

Will our 1/2 travel pass be able to be used on this route?

Do we need to make reservations in advance?

Thank you!

Posted by
1820 posts

I believe that Zermatt is car free. You have to park your car at one of the nearby railway stations and hop the train into town. Speaking of which, Switzerland has an excellent train system. Do you really need the rental car?

On my RS Switzerland tour we took the funicular or perhaps a cog wheel train up to Sunnegga. It’s a short ride and had lovely panoramic views including the Matterhorn. Weather cooperated and we were able to see it.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2724 posts

Zermatt is car-free, so don’t rent a car to go there. And a car is useless in the Berner Oberland area. The fabulous trains are one of my favorite things about Switzerland.

I wouldn’t bother with Zermatt. Who knows what the weather will be like.

Skip the car. Ride the trains. And have a great trip!!

Posted by
11386 posts

We didn't even try to see the Matterhorn until our third trip to Switzerland and we gave Zermatt 4 nights to increase our chances. The plan worked.

I would not want to arrive jetlagged and drive, then navigate the train and funicular to get to the viewing point, much less still have to drive to Lauterbrunnen the same day. The drive to Täsch is almost 3 hours alone, then you have to take the train to Zermatt, find the funicular, and make your ascent/descent. Waaaayyy too much stress. While the weather might look perfect when you land, it may well change on your way there and the effort to get a glimpse is for naught. Then you have another 2.5 hours to Lauterbrunnen.

Skip Zermatt and assume you will be back. Skip the car and relax on the train like most of us do. The car is not useful once you are there.

Posted by
843 posts

The comments you are receiving are correct. I might add that the best time to view any of the Alps is in the morning before the clouds build.

Posted by
3 posts

I appreciate the recommendations regarding the car vs train but that really wasn’t the opinion I was seeking since we already made that decision based on buying the 1/2 fare card and BO pass since most of our travel will be in the BO area and the 1/2 fare for incidentals trips should we leave the area.

The car rental ends up being less expensive than also getting the full Swiss pass in addition for our adult family of 5 and also adds some flexibility to get to our return flight in a non stressed fashion (not needing to catch a 4am train out of Lauterbrunnen)

So back to the question regarding trying to see the Matterhorn on the day of arrival. I realize we would have to park the car and travel into Zermatt hence my questions.

Thanks to those that confirmed it may be too much stress on that day with travel and weather being weighing factors. Perhaps we can get to Zermatt on another day while we are there.

Any other opinions regarding my original question are appreciated

Posted by
2724 posts

Whether you drive or take the train, there is still no way to know what the weather will be like. I still wouldn’t bother if your sole purpose for going there is to catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn.

I’m confused why you think you would need a full Swiss Pass if you don’t rent a car. But if you’re set on renting a car, not our business. Just trying to help you have the best experience.

Posted by
30 posts

We got back home from Switzerland last week, and going with the advice on this site, took the Gornergrat train to see the Matterhorn on the second train of the day. Unfortunately, the plan backfired and we didn’t catch it. We did see snow, and the glacier, and still enjoyed it, but caught a better view from our hotel window late that afternoon! Bon voyage!

Posted by
30 posts

BTW, though we have been to Switzerland twice before, this was our first time using trains. There are definitely pros and cons, but this time it was the right way to go

Posted by
1817 posts

I do not get why you are getting a 1/2 card, ad BO pass and renting a car on top of that. That looks like you are trying to optimise for maximum cost and inconvenience. Don't forget that from Täsch to Lauterbrunnen a car will be significantly slower than the train...

With the 1/2 card and the family card that comes with it the train will be cheaper on Geneva - Lauterbrunnen. And you will save yourself the cost of parking as well. Regarding getting back to the airport "stress free", if your flight is so early that you would need to leave Lauterbrunnen on the first train you would need to leave Lauterbrunnen by car at about the same time anyway. And in that case you better spend your last night near the airport anyway.

I think you are making the mistake of overestimating how convenient a car as, and underestimating how reliable and comfortable public transport is in Switzerland.

Posted by
3 posts

I just found this group today and will now be looking for an alternative.

I was hopeful I could get specific answers to specific questions, however what I have instead found is a group intent on not answering those specific questions and instead offering unsolicited advice even after a second request to please answer the actual questions asked.

Thank you to those that attempted to answer my actual questions. Gold stars for not being keyboard warriors!

Carry on warriors!

Posted by
6930 posts

To answer your questions:

Will it be too late in the day if we get there after noon? : Impossible to tell, check the weather forecast/webcams.

Will we be able to park our car nearby? Absolutely not, you have to park in Täsch and take a shuttle train to Zermatt. It is a bit time-consuming.

What is the best way to see a glimpse of Matterhorn? I have heard there is a gondola ride with a quick hike to be able to view it assuming the weather cooperates. What is the name of that route? Not sure what you are referring to. To me, the best view is from the top of Gornergrat railway. You can hike down to Riffelsee from there, taking the train back from Rotenboden.

Will our 1/2 travel pass be able to be used on this route? Yes, both on Täsch-Zermatt and on the Gornergrat railway... thankfully (fares are really high)

Do we need to make reservations in advance? No. This is all weather-dependent.

Now, would I do this? No. It is a long driving detour on a day when you are likely to be tired.
There is another, completely different, quintessentially Swiss activity right along the fastest way to Lauterbrunnen: the Caillier chocolate factory in Broc. You could visit nearby Gruyère, too. It would be a nice break along the way!

Then, if you have the energy, you can drive to Interlaken via Jaunpass instead of the motorway via Bern. More scenic, not particularly difficult drive (take care on the descent).

Posted by
497 posts

Hello Adioswarriors,

I am one who really likes Zermatt. The village itself is a lively, energetic place. I always go as a day trip from my home in Thun, and therefore never arrive very early - I check webcams before leaving home and have not missed seeing the Matterhorn yet. You can get glimpses of it from town, perhaps googling some photos of Zermatt itself will help you visualize it.

If this is a location that you and your family are hoping to see, then I would try to include it in your stay at some point. Although I always take the train now, when we used to visit as a family (before living here) we had access to a relative's car during our stay and often traveled about that way.

Enjoy your holiday!

Posted by
1817 posts

You know. We just want to help. I see to often examples of the X-Y problem here and on other forums, and will indeed offer "unsoliciited" advise when the OP gives the impression of having some incorrect assumptions. We would like you to have a great holiday here in Switzerland.

Posted by
2440 posts

The classic view of the Matterhorn is from the town itself. It’s iffy when you can get a totally clear view of it. I’d spend at least one night there

Posted by
1716 posts

Will it be too late in the day if we get there after noon? MAYBE, MAYBE NOT. SEEING THE MATTERHORN IS UNPREDICTABLE EXCEPT THE DAY OF YOUR VISIT. YOUR FIRST DAY YOU ARE LOOKING AT OVER 5 HOURS OF DRIVING ON PRACTICALLY NO OR POOR SLEEP. I HOPE YOU RENTED A VERY LARGE VEHICLE WITH 5 ADULTS AND LUGGAGE.

Will we be able to park our car nearby? YES, KIND OF. YOU HAVE TO PARK AND TAKE A TRAIN INTO ZERMATT.

What is the best way to see a glimpse of Matterhorn? I have heard there is a gondola ride with a quick hike to be able to view it assuming the weather cooperates. What is the name of that route? IT IS ALL ABOUT THE WEATHER. BEFORE DRIVING TO ZERMATT, I WOULD CHECK THE WEATHER OR WEBCAMS ON THE MATTERHORN. FROM THE GROUND IS USUALLY THE BEST VIEW.

Will our 1/2 travel pass be able to be used on this route? FROM GENEVA TO ZERMATT? YES. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE TRAIN FROM PARKING TO ZERMATT, I NEVER DRIVE IN SWITZERLAND.

Do we need to make reservations in advance? NO

Good Luck.

Posted by
201 posts

Can you spend your arrival night in Zermatt?

You will still need to park in Tasch. After leaving Zermatt, you can take the autotrain from Leukerbad to Kandersteg.
Also with a car, maybe the full fare Berner-Oberland pass will be more economical than if you buy the Half-Fare railcard in addition? https://www.berneseoberlandpass.ch/prices-tickets/

As for feeling disrespected by some responses, the posters here are merely trying to share their experiences, their thoughts and their opinions, which you were seeking.